Controversy Over Khalil Gibran Academy and Debbie Almontaser - updated 3/12/10

compiled by Sheila Musaji

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Controversy Over Khalil Gibran Academy and Debbie Almontaser

compiled by Sheila Musaji

First published 8/11/05 - last updated 3/12/10
updates at top of page

Brief Timeline of KGIA Controversy
Communities in Support of KGIA
Khalil Gibran International Academy - school website
Legal documents regarding the KGIA case
Wikipedia entry on KGIA

UPDATE 3/12/2010

NEW YORK, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/—The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed a determination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that city officials discriminated against Debbie Almontaser “on account of her race, religion and national origin” by removing her as interim principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in 2007 and disqualifying her for the permanent position as principal of that Arabic language school.

In a letter issued Tuesday, the EEOC stated that the Department of Education (DOE) “succumbed to the very bias that creation of the school was intended to dispel and a small segment of the public succeeded in imposing its prejudices on D.O.E. as an employer.”

SEE: Federal Panel Finds Bias in Ouster of Principal (NY Times)

“This preliminary victory is a strong rebuke to the vocal, agenda-driven minority that seeks to marginalize the American Muslim and Arab-American communities,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif. “We call on the Department of Education to reinstate Ms. Almontaser or place her in a comparable position.”

UPDATE 8/27/07

‘Stop the Madrassa’ leader David Yerushalmi also linked to controversial PBS program on Islam

(NEW YORK, NY, 8/27/07) - The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on a group opposed to an Arabic language public school in New York to purge its ranks of racists and extremists after revelations of a key leader’s apparent anti-Semitic views.

The Jewish Week newspaper reports that David Yerushalmi, an advisory board member and counsel of the “Stop the Madrassa” group, has condemned democracy in the United States and, “in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews ‘destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.’” (“Stop the Madrassa” is fighting to keep the Khalil Gibran International Academy from opening September 4.)

SEE: Tables Turn On Arab School Critics (The Jewish Week)

In June, CAIR called on the producers of a PBS-sponsored documentary on “moderate Muslims” to repudiate their alleged ties to another group headed by Yerushalmi that advocates imposing prison terms for “adherence to Islam” and that questions whether women and African-Americans should be allowed to vote.

Yerushalmi, the president and founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), published an online article in which he claims to be the attorney for Frank Gaffney, Alex Alexiev and Martyn Burke, the producers of the controversial PBS documentary “Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center” currently airing on more than 20 PBS stations nationwide.

SEE: Racist Group Linked to PBS ‘Moderate Muslims’ Documentary (CAIR)
SEE ALSO: Wash. Times Promotes Hate Group that Would Outlaw Islam (CAIR)

In a March 2, 2006, article for The American Spectator, Yerushalmi wrote: “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization. . .The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”

“Those who advocate racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic views can have no beneficial role in reasoned public debate on issues of importance to our society,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Coordinator Aliya Latif.

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


The great Islamophobic Crusade, Max Blumenthal  12/10

Federal Panel Finds Bias in Ouster of Principal  3/12/10

Some Speech Is More Free Than Others (documentary “Shouting Fire”)  6/28/09

Complex Feelings in Brooklyn’s Mix, Kareem Fahim  10/4/08

Belated reply to Phil Orenstein about Debbie Almontaser and the KGIA, Dane Vera  9/21/08

Silenced in the classroom: it was to have been the country’s first public school teaching Arabic and English Today, the Khalil Gibran International Academy is mired in fear and tension  9/1/08

Lieberman’s Very Serious Muslim-Bashing Senate Report, Chip Berlet  5/9/08

Daniel Pipes’ Witch Hunt at a Public School  5/08

Right-Wing Witch Hunts, Then and Now: Debbie Almontaser and Hallie Flanagan  5/08

Smearing Muslims, Eboo Patel  5/08

Suit Accuses Ex-Principal of Defamation, Andrea Elliott  5/17/08

Daniel Pipes v. Religious Tolerance, Gershom Gorenberg  4/30/08

Debbie Almontaser and the Arab culture school- victims of the proxy battle over Israel and Palestine, Cecile Surasky  4/28/08

VIDEO INTERVIEW:  Ousted NYC Arabic School Principal Debbie Almontaser Speaks Out on the New McCarthyism & Rightwing Media Attacks  4/29/08

VIDEO:  Battle Over a Brooklyn School  4/28/08

Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School, Andrea Elliott  4/28/08

Open Letter to the Jewish Community re KGIA  4/23/08

Open Letter from Educators in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Principal Debbie Almontaser to Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein  4/2/08

Debbie Almontaser v. NYC Dep’t of Educ.  Appeals Court Document  3/20/08

Debbie Almontaser Receives Peacemaker Award from Pax Christi 3/16/08

Principal of Arabic School Sues City  11/20/07

VIDEO:  Debbie Almontaser Accepts JFREJ Risk-Taker Award 11/8/07

Debbie Almontaser Speaks Out  10/26/07

Former Khalil Gibran Arabic Academy Principal Seeks Reinstatement  10/18/07

Arabic School Ex-Principal Fights to Get Job Back  10/17/07

The Crime Against Debbie Almontaser, Robert Hirschfield 9/13/07

Fears of Arab school in New York unjustified, Anisa Mehdi 9/9/07

Little Rock in the Big Apple, Zahed Amanullah  9/7/07

A principal ousted for what she didn’t say: a post-9/11 story  9/7/07

Khalil Gibran School one of 70 dual language public schools in New York 9/6/07

New York’s first Arabic school opens under police guard  9/4/07

Despite controversy, classes start at city’s first Arabic school  9/4/07

The Right-Wing’s War on the Gibran Academy: Arabic as a Terrorist Language, Anthony DiMaggio  8/30/07

Critics Ignored Record of a Muslim Principal  8/29/07

Critic of Khalil Gibran Arabic School in NY Accused of Anti-Semitism  8/27/07

Universal Faith, Noah Feldman  8/26/07

Let Arabs tell the truth, Bradley Burston  8/24/07

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) on Debbie Almontaser’s Resignation and the targeting of the Kahlil Gibran International Academy  8/23/07

Another NY rabbi calls campaign against Arab school principal Debbie Almontaser “the lowest of McCarthyite tactics.”  8/27/07

U.S. rabbi defends N.Y. Arab school despite charges it will be anti-Israel  8/21/07

Khalil Gibran School Principal, Debbie Almontaser, Was a Casualty of Fear, Mona Eltahawy 8/21/07

High-tech lynching” What rabbi calls campaign against Muslim principal  8/18/07

New Khalil Gibran School Principal Danielle Salzberg is a Zionist 8/15/07

An Arab American’s Pocket Political Dictionary, Russell Mokhiber  8/15/07

Principal at New NYC Arabic-Language School Forced to Resign  8/13/07

International Academy Controversy Leaves Arab American Community Vulnerable, Eman Ahmed  8/11/07

Critics of Khalil Gibran School Unfairly Target Islam, Arabic Culture, Raanan Geberer  5/07

Not Always As Sweet, Debbie Almontaser

Showdown in Brooklyn: Debbie Almontaser, former head of New York’s Khalil Gibran School, talks to Tahira Muhammad for The Middle East,+former+head+of+New+York’s…-a0202487216

The War on Academic Freedom, Kristine McNeil  11/11/02